Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Take on Stock

I admit that I have been putting this one off for a while now. Oh, I'd been diligently saving shrimp shells in a freezer bag, but the idea of having my house smell like shrimp stock was somewhat unappealing to me. However, after reading the Suburban Hausfrau's take on shrimp scampi with pasta, using homemade shrimp stock, I decided to hold my nose and take the plunge.

Here I have my frozen shrimp shells in my new 2.5 liter saucepan. Also along for the ride are garlic, celery (the inner ribs with leaves), a carrot, two scallions, dried thyme and dried dill. A bay leaf and black peppercorns were also added to the pot.

The vegetables were cleaned and roughly chopped and the garlic cloves were smashed before being added to the pot. The herbs and peppercorns were then tossed in to add their flavor to the mix.

I allowed this to simmer for a couple of hours over medium heat. And yes, my house did smell like shrimp. Not perhaps my favorite smell in the world, but all in all it was not intolerable.

The stock was strained through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a heat-proof container.

At this point I had 1-1/2 quarts of shrimp stock. I decided that based on available freezer space, I needed to further reduce the stock. So I returned the stock to the sauce pan and allowed it to simmer for another hour or so, until I was left with one quart of the fragrant elixir.

After cooling, the stock was portioned out, labeled and frozen. Two cups was set aside for the shrimp scampi with linguine.

First, I added about a cup of the stock to water and after it reached a boil, I added kosher salt and the linguine. This cooked until al dente and then was removed from the water. The water was dumped and the pan was returned to the stove.

While the pasta cooked I prepped the remaining ingredients for the dish: peeled shrimp, diced shallot, grated garlic (3 large cloves), shrimp stock and unsalted butter.

Once the pan was returned to the hot burner, I added the butter, shallot and garlic. The shrimp go in and are quickly cooked. Remember that the shrimp will not take more than a minute or two per side to cook. In fact, at this point it is better to slightly under-cook the shrimp since they will be returned to the heat later.

I removed the shrimp from the pan and added the remaining shrimp stock. I let this reduce for just a moment before continuing to the next step.

The shrimp and linguine are added back into the pan and are tossed in the sauce.

The shrimp scampi with linguine is immediately plated and ready for the table.

A wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a fine grater are on the table so that the diners can grate the cheese over their serving. The shrimp stock adds a rich chord to the composition, rounding out the flavors nicely. My only regret is that I had no fresh Italian parsley to sprinkle over the dish.


Rosie Hawthorne said...

No fresh Italian parsley???
Oh no!
I have it growing year round.
Even during freezes and snow.

Granted I don't have the severe cold freezes you do, but you ought to be able to find a shaded, protected, southern exposure for a winter crop of parsley.

In the heat of the summer, my parsley does very well on the north, shaded side of the house.

My parsley is a weed. But a lovable weed.

And my bay is a weed too. I have little bay seedlings coming up everywhere.

Marilyn said...

Ah, Rosie. I can only dream of growing Italian parsley year round. I grow mine in a pot against the South side of the house near a protective wall, and it dies once the temperatures dip below freezing and stay there for days on end.

Kathy said...

I don't have Italian parsley growing, but I have some weeds in my yard. After all, SLop says to use whatever YOU have!

MrsVJW said...

Oh man.... I usually never cook shrimp stock for that long... an hour, hour and a half, at most. Doesn't ever get as gelatinous as other stocks, but it is one of those things... I pay for the shrimp shells, might as well get some use out of them. And it is one thing that really brings out "restaurant quality" in home cooking.

I usually just buy parsley weekly at the produce market (where it is at least half the price of the grocery store) but it does keep well in the crisper.